The Orlando Solar Bears may be less than 24 hours from exiting the ECHL postseason.
Blake Winiecki and Logan Roe scored power-play goals and Callum Booth turned away 33 shots as the Florida Everblades pushed Orlando to the brink of playoff elimination Thursday night, cruising to their third straight victory in a 4-0 romp.
Justin Auger and Ben Masella each added unassisted goals for the Everblades, who took the momentum from Tuesday night’s stunning comeback to dictate their way with the Solar Bears.
Though Orlando’s 33 shots amounted to 10 more than Florida, the Everblades had the evening’s more dangerous scoring chances. A chippy contest also saw frustrations boil over in the final minutes, with four Solar Bears called for misconduct along with two Florida players.
In the end, officials waved off the final 1.3 seconds and sent the teams off the ice.
The Solar Bears now must win Friday night’s Game 5 at Amway Center to send the series back to Estero. Otherwise, their season will end in the same manner as last season – a 4-1 series loss to their archrivals.
Winiecki, who entered the game as the ECHL’s No.3 goal scorer in the playoffs, broke open a rather subdued first period with a power-play goal with just under three minutes left in the period.
With Orlando’s Mitch Hults in the box for a tripping – a call in which Florida’s Joe Cox appeared to go down without contact – Winiecki managed to redirect Matt Finn’s shot from between the circles past Connor Ingram.
It was Winiecki’s eighth goal in 10 playoff games, three shy of Tulsa’s Alex Dostie.
Auger gave the Everblades a 2-0 lead with an unassisted goal at 8:44 of the second period, catching the Solar Bears flat-footed after a collision at the other end of the ice left Orlando’s Alex Schoenborn struggling to get off the ice.
No whistle ensued, though, and Auger found space along the right side to skate in alone on Ingram.
Roe extended the lead to 3-0 at 2:14 of the third period, one-timing a slick drop pass from Winiecki just as a Florida penalty expired in a 4-on-4 situation. Masella rounded out the scoring at 9:08 of the period with an unassisted goal, collecting the puck in transition to skate in alone on Ingram.